So it’s been a year. A year of Zoom calls, a year of 1000-piece puzzles, a year of a little too much family time. In some ways, it’s been the longest year of my life, but at the same time, last March feels like yesterday. I remember being swamped with junior year work, complaining with my friends that there were no days off in March. And now? Junior year cut short, quarantine all summer, senior year anything but normal — we certainly got more than a day off.
During quarantine, my mental health definitely took a hit. I’m very fortunate that none of my friends or family were affected by the virus, but it was still tough to not be able to hang out with friends, to only have the supermarket as an outing, to miss out on the rest of my school year.
Now that a full year has gone by since school shut down, however, I’ve started to look back at quarantine and appreciate the good parts — because trust me, they’re there:
One of the best parts of quarantine was that I was able to reconnect. Check-ins with friends from all over the country that I hadn’t spoken to in forever soon developed into meaningful conversations with people I hadn’t even realized I missed so much. I started Zooming weekly with my grandparents, who I used to see only a few times a year.
Quarantine has also taught me some pretty cool new hobbies. I learned to cook (zucchini meatballs sound gross, but they’re amazing, I promise — hit me up for the recipe!) and I half-learned to crochet (just a very misshapen scarf, but it counts!). I’ve discovered new books, music, and podcasts (or hit me up for my Spotify and I’ll make you a pretty groovy playlist!), and I’ve finally gotten around to tackling the Herculean task of cleaning my room.
The best thing that’s come out of a year of quarantine, though, is the resilience. Not just in me — I’ve recognized it in friends, family, classmates, even strangers. Every day, there seemed to be new examples of people using creativity to overcome the obstacles of the pandemic, from kids making masks for community members to drive-by birthdays to celebrate separately but together. Quarantine has been difficult, but it’s taught us that we can come out of tough times even stronger. We don’t have to be stopped by obstacles; we can find creative solutions to overcome them and make the most of the cards that we’re dealt.
So it’s been a year. A year of Zoom calls, a year of 1000-piece puzzles, a year of a little too much family time. But it’s also been a year of compassion, a year of perseverance, a year of strength. As we head into this next year, my hope is that we continue to keep these lessons in mind and not give in to COVID-fatigue. With vaccine rollout increasing, as long as we each continue to do our parts, the end is in sight. So for this next year, here’s to taking our compassion, perseverance, and strength with us. And here’s to no more puzzles.
Rebecca Blumenthal is a senior at Ward Melville High School, on Long Island, NY. She is president of both the New York Student Leadership Council and her home chapter. She loves SADD because it's an opportunity to help peers be their best selves, and to raise awareness for important issues, like mental health. She loves to bake, read, and watch Criminal Minds. She's so proud of all that NY SADD has accomplished this year, and she can't wait to do more!